Family Stories and Memoirs

 

November is National Family Stories Month – and with the weather getting cold, it’s a perfect time for curling up in front of the woodstove and telling stories. Though, of course, any time of year is good for family stories, and the more the better. See below for some of the many ways in which other people have told theirs.

What about playing family story-telling games, making your own family memory book, creating a family name quilt, or keeping a cartoon diary?

TRUE FAMILY STORIES

 imgres Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains (Puffin, 1993), a Caldecott Honor Book, is an evocative first-person account of a West Virginia childhood that begins “When I was young in the mountains, Grandfather came home in the evening covered with the black dust of a coal mine.” For ages 5-8.
 imgres-1 Dan Yaccarino’s All the Way to America (Dragonfly, 2014) – subtitled “The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel” – traces his family history from Sorrento, Italy, where his great-grandfather, Michele, was given a little shovel by his father so that he could help tend the family garden plot. When, as a young man, Michele leaves for America, he takes the little shovel with him, along with some family photographs and his mother’s recipe for tomato sauce. Eventually, the little shovel is passed down through generations. (The author picture on the back flap shows Yaccarino holding it.) For ages 5-9.
 imgres-2 Betsy Hearne’s picture book Seven Brave Women (Greenwillow Books, 2006) traces her family history through seven generations, beginning with great-great-great-grandmother Elizabeth, who came to America from Switzerland in a wooden boat, and great-great-grandmother Eliza, who traveled west to Ohio in a covered wagon. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-3 James Stevenson’s When I Was Nine (Greenwillow, 1986) is the picture-book story of a childhood summer in the 1930s when Stevenson was nine years old. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-4 Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006) is a wonderful account of Capote’s (as “Buddy”) childhood in rural Alabama in the 1930s and his friendship with his eccentric Aunt Sook. Aunt Sook is also featured in The Thanksgiving Visitor, in which she invites Buddy’s nemesis, the school bully Odd Henderson, to Thanksgiving dinner. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-5 The nine-book Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods (HarperCollins, 2004), collectively tells the story of the life of Laura and her family as pioneers in the mid-19th century. Filled with details, adventures, and Pa’s fiddle music. For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-6 From the New Yorker, Judith Thurman’s Wilder Women is an interesting account of Laura Ingalls Wilder, her daughter Rose, and their now-classic books.
 imgres-7 Robert Lawson’s They Were Strong and Good (Viking Juvenile Books, 2006) traces his family’s journey through American history, beginning with his grandparents: “My mother’s father was a Scotch sea captain. He sailed the brig Eliza Jane Hopper from New York to the islands of the Caribbean – to Puerto Rico and Cuba and the Isthmus of Panama.” For ages 8-12.
 imgres-8 Jean Craighead George’s The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets (HarperCollins, 1997) is the story of George’s family life with orphaned wild animals, among them Yammer, an owl who liked to watch Road Runner cartoons, and Duck and Goose, who were arrested for disturbing the peace. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-9 Farley Mowat’s Owls in the Family (Yearling, 1996) is the story of his childhood on the Canadian prairie, along with his obstreperous and endearing pet owls, Wol and Weeps. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-10 Jean Fritz’s Homesick, My Own Story (Puffin, 1999) is the fascinating story of Fritz’s childhood in China in the 1920s. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-11 Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (HarperCollins, 2005) is both a wonderful collection of family stories and a great family read-aloud. Originally published in the 1940s, this is the story of the Gilbreth family as told by two of the kids. The Gilbreth parents were early efficiency experts, who combined research with a boisterous family of twelve redheads. (Learn about Dad’s disastrous birdbath, the perils of automobiles, home-style tonsillectomies, and how to take a bath in under a minute.) For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-12 When I Was Your Age, edited by Amy Ehrlich, (Candlewick Press, 2012) is a collection of childhood reminiscences by ten well-known children’s book authors, among them Mary Pope Osborne, Katherine Paterson, Avi, James Howe, and Susan Cooper. (If you and your kids like that, there’s a sequel: When I Was Your Age, Volume 2.) For ages 9-14.
 imgres-13 Roald Dahl’s Boy (Puffin, 2009), illustrated with photos and drawings by Quentin Blake, is Dahl’s account of his boyhood, including the wicked tale of the Great Mouse Plot of 1924. (It involves a dead mouse and candy.) For ages 9-14.
 imgres-14 Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story (Broadway, 2003) is the hilarious tale of Shepherd’s Indiana boyhood, featuring a secret decoder ring (that proves to advertise Ovaltine), a scandalous leg lamp (wearing a fishnet stocking), the tobacco-chewing Bumpuses next door with their swarm of hideous hounds, and young Ralphie’s hope for a Red Ryder B-B gun for Christmas. For ages 10 and up.
The 1983 film version of A Christmas Story – which is funny and terrific – is rated PG.
 imgres-15 Jerry Spinelli’s Knots in My Yo-Yo String (Ember, 1998) is the story of Spinelli’s youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s. For ages 10-13.
 imgres-17 Lois Lowry’s Looking Back: A Book of Memories (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2000) is a marvelous collection of autobiographical stories accompanied by black-and-white photos, each showing how Lowry used her personal life experiences in her many novels. (Each chapter opens with a novel excerpt.) For ages 11 and up.
 imgres-18 Art Spiegelman’s powerful graphic novels Maus (Pantheon, 1986) and Maus II tell the story of his parents’ experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland and post-war life in the United States. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-19 Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl (Bantam, 1993) is a world classic. The diary begins when Anne was 13, just before she and her family go into hiding in the “secret annex” in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. For ages 13 and up.
See the Anne Frank website for period photos of Anne’s Amsterdam, a tour of the secret annex, information on the diary, and more.
 imgres-16 Joyce Maynard’s Looking Back (Open Road, 2012), a memoir written when Maynard was 18, is “A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties.” For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-23 Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Ballantine, 2009) is the wonderful, painful, and uplifting story of the poet’s youth, her struggles to overcome bigotry and deal with physical and emotional hardship, and her ultimate discovery of her own strength and her love for the written word. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-21 Mary McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (Mariner Books, 1972) is a superb collection of autobiographical pieces beginning after the author’s parents died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-22 Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory (Vintage, 1989) is a stunning autobiography, dealing primarily with Nabokov’s life in Russia before coming to the United States. For teenagers and adults.
Not fond of memoirs? See The Problem With Memoirs from the New York Times.

FICTIONAL FAMILY STORIES

 imgres-24 Jamie Lee Curtis’s When I Was Little (HarperCollins, 1995) is a four-year-old’s picture-book memoir of her youth. (“When I was little, I had two teeth. Now I have lots, and I know how to brush them.”) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-25 In Rose A. Lewis’s Every Year on Your Birthday (Little, Brown, 2007), a mother tells her adopted Chinese daughter the story of her life, year by year, beginning with her birth in China. (“I wasn’t there, but I was thinking about you as I waited at home to be your new mother.”) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-26 Patricia MacLachlan’s beautiful What You Know First (HarperCollins, 1998) is the poetic story of a little girl whose family has sold their farm on the prairie, a place the narrator loves and doesn’t want to leave. As she comes to terms with moving, she collects mementos – a bag of prairie earth, a piece of a cottonwood tree – so that she can tell her new brother or sister where they came from. “What you know first stays with you, my Papa says.” Illustrated with engravings. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-27 In Patricia Polacco’s The Keeping Quilt (Simon & Schuster, 2001), Anna’s mother makes a quilt to help the family remember their home in Russia. Passed down from mother to daughter through generations, the quilt serves as a wedding canopy, a Sabbath tablecloth, and a blanket for a new baby – but all the while tying the family together. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-28 In Knots on a Counting Rope (Square Fish, 1997) by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault, a Navajo boy listens as his grandfather tells him his life story: about the stormy night when he was born, how he got his name, and how he has bravely learned to live with his blindness. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-29 In Mem Fox’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Kane Miller, 1969), young Wilfrid lives next door to a retirement home, where his best friend – 96-year-old Miss Nancy – is losing her memory. Wilfrid sets out to help her get it back – but first he has to find out what memories are. Everyone has a different definition. For ages 4-8.
Listen to Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge read aloud here (by Bradley Whitford). Included at the site is a downloadable activity guide.
 imgres-30 In Eve Bunting’s The Memory String (Clarion, 2000), Laura – who is having trouble adjusting to Jane, her new stepmother – comforts herself by telling the stories associated with each of the buttons on her “memory string:” there’s a button from her great-grandmother’s first grown-up dress, one from her mother’s wedding gown, another from her father’s army uniform. When the string breaks, Jane helps Laura put it together again and the two form a bond. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-31 In Phyllis Root’s The Name Quilt (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), Sadie spends summers with her Grandma, who tucks her in every night with the name quilt. The quilt has the names of generations of ancestors embroidered on it, and there’s a story that goes with every one. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-32 Riki Levinson’s Watch the Stars Come Out (Puffin, 1995) is the story of two children’s journey across the ocean to America, their landing at Ellis Island, and their reunion with their parents – all told as a family tale, the story a grandmother tells her little granddaughter about her own mother’s experiences. Illustrated with lovely paintings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-33 In Sharon Bell Mathis’s The Hundred Penny Box (Puffin, 2006), Michael’s great-great-aunt Dew cherishes a box of pennies, one for each of her one hundred years, each with a story of its own. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-34 Jeff Kinney’s cartoon Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Amulet, 2009) is the hilarious story of middle-school student Greg, forced by his mother to keep a diary. (No, journal.) Many sequels. For ages 8-13.
 imgres-35 In Richard Peck’s A Long Way From Chicago (Puffin, 2004), Joey and his sister Mary Alice have been sent from Chicago to stay with their intimidating Grandma Dowdel, a larger-than-life woman with a heart of pure gold. The episodes in the book begin in 1929, the first year of the Great Depression, and end in 1942, when Joey heads off to war. A wonderful fictional family story. Sequels are A Year Down Yonder, featuring Mary Alice, and A Season of Gifts. For ages 9 and up.

TELLING YOUR STORY

 imgres-36 Donald Davis’s Telling Your Own Stories (August House, 2005) – written by a master storyteller – is a 128-page collection of prompts, tips, and suggestions for storytellers to use either by themselves with a notebook and pencil or in conversational groups. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-37 Mary Borg’s Writing Your Life (Prufrock Press, 2013) is a guide to writing your autobiography, packed with questions to explore, story starters, and writing tips. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres The nonprofit oral history project StoryCorps, founded in 2003, has collected personal stories from over 90,000 participants. (Their motto: “Every voice matters.”)Visit the site to listen to stories or participate by recording personal stories of your own.
Collecting Family Stories has a long list of suggestions and sample interview questions. Interview your relatives!

MEMORY JOURNALS

 images Dr. Seuss’s My Book About Me (Random House, 1969) is an interactive journal in which kids fill in information “all about me” – weight and height, number of teeth, hair and eye color, favorite foods and clothes, pets and family members, and more. A fun project for ages 4-8.
 imgres-38 From Creativity for Kids, the It’s My Life Scrapbook Kit includes a spiral-bound scrapbook, fancy paper, stickers, picture frames, and tools for story-recording kids ages 7 and up.
 imgres-39 Linda Kranz’s All About Me: A Keepsake Journal for Kids (Rising Moon, 2004) is an illustrated notebook with prompts that encourage kids to write about themselves: “Everybody has a favorite place. What is yours?” “If someone gave you a million dollars, what would you do with it?” For ages 9-12.
 imgres-40 Compiled by a writing teacher, Family Traditions Scrapbook has a list of suggestions and links for making a family history scrapbook.
 images-1 The Treasure Chest: Creating a Family Memory Book has instructions for making a memory book in a decorated three-ring binder. Included is a list of questions aimed at getting the whole family involved.
 imgres-41 From Scholastic, Brown Paper Bag Family Memories is a project for early-elementary-level kids in which they collect objects that represent a family memory in a brown paper lunch bag and write short stories about each.

FAMILY STORY GAMES

 imgres-42 LifeStories (Talicor) is a family-friendly personal storytelling game in which participants hop playing pieces around a bright-colored board while answering questions in four categories: Etchings, Memories, Valuables, and Alternatives. Samples include “Tell about an incident that had something to do with water,” “Tell about something that made you feel proud,” “What is one of the most unusual meals you ever ate?,” “How did your parents meet?,” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For 2-8 players ages 6 and up.
 imgres-43 In our family, a lot of personal storytelling began with a board game. The game was called Reminiscing (subtitled “The Game for People Over Thirty”) and I’d been given it for a birthday. A good deal of the game involved decade-by-decade trivia questions, which didn’t go down well with our kids, all of whom were well under thirty and couldn’t remember Woodstock, I Love Lucy, or Gilligan’s Island. However, a subset of the game involved a challenge to tell a story from your past having to do with…followed by a long list of memory-triggering suggestions: a pet, a storm, a party, a costume, a camping trip, a dream, a Christmas, a bicycle, a car, a book, a grandparent, a cousin. Finally, we gave up on the board game altogether, wrote the personal story suggestions on index cards, one to a card, and stashed them in a cardboard box known from then on as the Storytelling Box. We took turns picking cards and telling stories. It’s a pastime that never fails, and the stories – try it and you’ll see – are wonderful.
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Vikings

 

 

The Vikings: scary warriors, peaceful farmers, superb sailors, talented artists. See below for books, resources, a great outdoor chess game, a rampageous God of Thunder, and some helpful hints about dragon training.

 VIKING HISTORY

 imgres By Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, Leif the Lucky (Beautiful Feet Books, 1994) is a gorgeously illustrated biography of Leif Erickson for ages 7-10.
 imgres-1 Andrew Langley’s 40-page You Wouldn’t Want to Be A Viking Explorer! (Franklin Watts, 2013) uses off-beat humor and cartoon-ish illustrations to cover a lot of information on the Vikings and their colonization of Greenland. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-2 Susan Margeson’s Viking (Dorling Kindersley, 2009) in the Eyewitness series is arranged in illustrated double-page spreads, each devoted to a different Viking topic, among them “A Viking warship,” “A Viking fort,” “Gods and legends,” “Viking burials,” and “Runes and picture stones.” Wonderful photographs of artifacts. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-3 Elizabeth Janeway’s The Vikings (Beautiful Feet Books, 2010) is a lightly fictionalized account of the life and voyages of Leif Ericson. Historically accurate, but reads like an exciting novel. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-4 By John Haywood, Viking: The Norse Warrior’s (Unofficial) Manual (Thames & Hudson, 2013) is informational, funny, and written in the second person, which makes for a snappy read. A rundown of Viking society, for example, ends with the slave or thrall, the social bottom of the heap: “Tough luck. This is not a good place to start. You’ll be a slave if your mother was a slave. Or maybe you didn’t run fast enough when Vikings came calling in your neighborhood, and you were captured and sold.”  For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-5 James Graham-Campbell’s  200+-page The Viking World (Frances Lincoln, 2013) is a comprehensive account of the Vikings, who dominated (and terrorized) Europe from the ninth to the eleventh century. Illustrated with maps and beautiful photographs. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-6 Nancy Marie Brown’s The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (Mariner Books, 2008) is the fascinating tale of the tenth-century Gudrid, who probably crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times. The book combines new archaeological discoveries (Gudrid’s longhouse has been excavated in Iceland) with historical information and accounts from medieval Icelandic sagas. For teenagers and adults.
 images By Bryan Sykes, Saxons, Vikings, and Celts (W.W. Norton and Company, 2007) is a genetic history of the Great Britain, covering everything from Cheddar Man and King Arthur to the science of blood transfusions. Find out who has Viking ancestors. For teenagers and adults.
 images-1 The History Channel’s The Vikings is a multi-season series with a lot of action, a large cast of characters, and an up-close-and-personal look at the Vikings.
 imgres-8 Robert Ferguson’s The Vikings (Penguin Books, 2010), the companion book to the series, is a well-researched history, filled with interesting (and many gruesome) details. For teenagers and adults.
 images-4 The Viking Answer Lady website has a wealth of helpful information, variously categorized under General Info, Daily Life, Technology, Agriculture, Warfare, Art & Literature, Myth & Religion, and Settlements. Find out about old Norse names, Viking games, drinking customs, tattoos, berserkers, and much more.
kremlin-22 Viking Heritage has a long list of Viking archaeological discoveries, with annotated photos of artifacts.
 images-3 The Viking Rune is a blog devoted to Vikings. Various categories include Norse Names, Norse Runes, Viking Archaeology, Viking Gods, and Scandinavia.
 images-5 The Jorvik Viking Centre in York, England – on the site of an ancient Viking city – is now a wonderful living-history museum. A dream field trip for Viking lovers. Check it out.
 images-6 10 Things You May Not Know About the Vikings is an interesting short list. Visitors learn that Vikings bleached their hair, skied for fun, and never wore horned helmets.
 imgres-9 From The Great Courses, The Vikings is a 36-lecture series, available for download or on DVDs or CDs. Titles of the 30-minute lectures, by professor Kenneth Harl of Tulane University, include “The Vikings in Medieval History,” “The Norse Gods,” “Legendary Kings and Heroes,” and “A Revolution in Shipbuilding.” Intended for a high-school-level or adult audience, but accessible for younger viewers.
 imgres-10 Generally the Viking age in Europe is said to have begun with the raid on Lindisfarne Abbey on June 8, AD 793 – but recent evidence shows that the first raid may have been earlier yet. Read about it in The First Vikings from Archaeology magazine.
 imgres-11 From PBS, The Viking Deception is the story of the Vinland map – either a priceless document showing early Viking voyages or a very clever 20th-century forgery.
 images-7 See this illustrated account of How Vikings Navigated the World.
 imgres-12 Legend claims that the Vikings used special crystal to navigate under cloudy skies. Read about the discovery of a Viking-style sunstone here.

VIKINGS IN FICTION

 imgres-13 In #15 in Mary Pope Osborne’s popular Magic Treehouse series, Viking Ships at Sunrise (Random House, 2010), Jack and Annie are magically transported to a monastery in Ireland, just as Viking raiders arrive. For ages 6-9.
From Scholastic, Viking Ships at Sunrise Lesson Plan has a number of activities to accompany the book, among them making and labeling a “Viking ship” on the floor (with electrical tape), learning to write your name in runes, researching Viking facts, and figuring out how long it takes to copy a page from a favorite book, medieval-monk-style.
 imgres-14 In Jon Scieszka’s Viking It and Liking It (Puffin, 2004), one of the giggle-provoking Time Warp Trio series, Joe, Fred, and Sam are propelled back to the time of the Vikings, where they become embroiled in a conflict between Leif Eriksson and his cousin, Grim-Snake-in-the-Grass. There’s an annoying bard suggestively named Bullshik, which – according to reviewer comments – many parents and teachers find objectionable. For ages 7-9.
Viking It and Liking It is a lesson plan to accompany the book. Activities include making a commercial for some aspect of Viking life and inventing a game of Viking Jeopardy.
 imgres-15 Clyde Robert Bulla’s Viking Adventure (Avyx, 2000) is the story of young Sigurd, who sets off on a voyage to “Wineland” in North America. The voyage turns out to be far more dangerous than expected – there’s a murder and a shipwreck – with only Sigurd left alive at the end to tell the tale. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-16 In Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon (Little, Brown, 2010), Hiccup, a Viking warrior-in-training, and his fellow classmates must each capture a dragon and train it. Hiccup’s dragon – rude, lazy, and scrawny, but lovable – is named Toothless. When traditional Viking dragon-training techniques (yelling) fail, Hiccup decides to simply talk to Toothless – with successful results, as the pair of unlikely heroes prove when the clan is faced with a sea monster. The first of a series for ages 7-11.
images-8 From DreamWorks, How to Train Your Dragon is the animated film version of the book. Rated PG.
 imgres-17 In Terry Jones’s The Saga of Erik the Viking (Pavilion, 2013), Erik and his crew set sail on The Golden Dragon to find “the land where the sun goes at night.” En route, they have exciting and heroic adventures with the Old Man of the Sea, monsters, enchanters, giants, trolls, and a dragon. A great read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-18 In Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants (HarperCollins, 2009), twelve-year-old Odd, who has a crippled leg and a hateful stepfather, sets off for a cabin in the wilderness. Along the way he meets a bear, a fox, and an eagle – who prove to be gods in disguise, transformed into animals by a Frost Giant. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-19 In Matthew Kirby’s Icefall (Scholastic, 2013), set in ancient Norway, a Viking king has sent his three children – Harald, his young son and heir, Asa, the beautiful oldest daughter, and Solveig, the plain middle child – to a distant mountain fortress for protection while the kingdom is at war. It soon becomes obvious that there is a traitor in their midst, and Solveig, now training to become a bard, must discover who it is. A terrific and suspenseful story for ages 8-12.
 imgres-20 Allison Lassieur’s Life as a Viking (Capstone Press, 2010) is an interactive choose-your-own-adventure in which readers decide what to raid, battle, or invade. Historical information paired with a lot of slaughter. Be warned. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-21 In Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls (Atheneum Books, 2006), a Viking-based fantasy, young Jack (who has been learning magic from the neighborhood Bard) and his little sister Lucy are captured by Northmen and taken to the home of Olaf One-Brow. Jack – soon in trouble with the half-troll Queen Frith – must save his sister by setting off on a quest to find Mimir’s well in Jotunheim, a fearful realm of trolls, dragons, and monsters. There are two sequels: The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-23 Jonathan Stroud’s Heroes of the Valley (Disney-Hyperion, 2010) is a fantasy set in the world of the Norse epics. The main character is fifteen-year-old Halli Sveinsson, youngest and least handsome son of the House of Svein, who sets off to avenge his uncle’s death and learns the truth about his heroic ancestors and their battle with the evil Trows. A grand adventure for ages 10 and up.
 images-9 Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael series is a delightful collection of mysteries set in the 12th century, starring the herbalist/monk Brother Cadfael, an ex-Crusader with a sense of humor. In Summer of the Danes (Sphere, 1994), Cadfael is dispatched to Wales, where civil war threatens. There he is captured by Viking mercenaries. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-24 Frans G. Bengtsson’s The Long Ships (New York Review Books Classics, 2010) is the story of 10th-century Viking Red Orm, an exciting saga of kings, clans, battles, and blood feuds. Wonderful historical fiction for teenagers and adults.
 images-10 The Historical Novels website has an annotated list of dozens of historical novels featuring Vikings. For older readers.
 imgres-25 In the film The Vikings (1958), Einar (Kirk Douglas) and Eric (Tony Curtis) are half-brothers, though neither realizes the other’s identity. (Not surprising, since Einar is a chieftain’s son and a warrior, while Eric is a slave.) This is a gorgeous movie: there are battles, longships, a beautiful captured princess (Janet Leigh), a wolf pit, and a flaming funeral. No rating on the website, but I’d call it a PG-13. It’s riddled with historical inaccuracies, but is such fun to watch that nobody cares.

NORSE MYTHOLOGY

 imgres-26 By Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, D’Aulaire’s Norse Myths (New York Review Children’s Collection, 2005) is a wonderful collection of classic stories about both the great and the lesser-known Norse gods, goddesses, and hangers-on. The illustrations are spectacular. For ages 5-12.
 imgres-27 By archaeologist Graeme Davis, Thor: The Viking God of Thunder (Osprey Publishing, 2013) is an excellent collection of Norse myths and legends about the Viking god who battles trolls and giants with Mjolnir, his mighty hammer, and who rides to war in a chariot pulled by goats. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-29 Padraic Colum’s The Children of Odin (Aladdin, 2004) divides the classical Norse myths into four parts: “The Dwellers in Asgard,” “Odin the Wanderer,” “The Witch’s Heart,” and “The Sword of the Volsungs and the Twilight of the Gods.” For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-30 Nancy Marie Brown’s Song of the Vikings (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) is the story of chieftain and storyteller Snorri Sturluson, the source of Viking lore and legends for all of Western literature. Richard Wagner and J.R.R. Tolkien owe him. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-28 Renowned artist Walter Simonson’s graphic novel The Mighty Thor (Marvel, 2013), starring the superhero that he made famous, combines a great story with terrific pictures. Many equally wonderful sequels. For ages 9 and up.
 images-11 In the film Thor: The God of Thunder (2011), Thor – after some unauthorized meddling with the Frost Giants – is punished by being tossed out of Asgard and sent to Earth. There he falls in love with scientist Jane Foster and saves his new home from the Destroyer, sent by Loki to kill Thor. He also saves Asgard from invading Frost Giants. (Walter Simonson has a short, but impressive, appearance in the final banquet scene). Rated PG-13.
Also see the sequel, Thor: The Dark World (2013).
For the picky, check out 8 Things Marvel Got Wrong About Thor and Norse Mythology.
 images-12 Norse Mythology covers Viking myths, the Viking creation story, Yggdrasil the World Tree, Ragnarok, and the Norse gods, goddesses, and other supernatural beings.

VIKINGS AND MATH

 imgres-31 In Cindy Neuschwander’s Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map (Charlesbridge, 2012), cousins Per and Radius find a mysterious treasure map belonging to Viking warrior Xaxon Yellowbearyd. To decode it, they need to understand coordinate graphing. One of the Math Adventures series starring a host of math-y medieval characters for ages 8-12.
 images-13 Viking Math is a short collection of Viking-themed word problems, variously involving scaling monastery walls, burning English huts, indulging in blood feuds, and fleeing, at different speeds, in longships.
 imgres-32 Viking Navigation is an exercise in which students determine latitude using the same method as the Vikings. You’ll need two yardsticks, a protractor, and an ability to find the North Star.
 imgres-33 An Investigation into Viking Mathematics is an essay on the mathematical peculiarities of Viking chain mail.
 imgres-34 Vikings Brainstorm is a puzzle board game in which players attempt to navigate their longships through a storm at sea. An exercise in strategy and creative thinking for ages 6 and up.

ARTS, CRAFTS, AND GAMES

 929 From Crayola, Westward With the Vikings has instructions for making a paper-and-craft-stick Viking dragon boat.
 vicking-shipsm Make this great 3-D Viking Ship from a cardboard milk carton.
 mpaperviking DLTK’s Crafts for Kids has a Viking Paper Craft: print and color the templates to assemble a Viking paper doll. Wearing a horned helmet.
 IMG_4979 See these instructions for making a terrific Viking Shield. (You’ll need duct tape and a big piece of corrugated cardboard.)
 imgres-37 A.G. Smith’s Story of the Vikings (Dover Publications, 1988) is an informational coloring book covering all aspects of Viking life. Pair this one with a nice box of colored pencils. For ages 8-12.
 roundbrooches From Time Traveller Kids, Make a Viking Brooch has instructions for making great cloak pins from painted clay.
From the Instructables, Making a Viking Cloak-Pin is a serious project involving metal and a brazing rod.
 imgres-35 The Scandinavian game of Kubb is also known as “Viking chess.” The goal: to throw sticks at your opponent’s pieces in an attempt to knock them over. Find out how to make a set of your own here.
Commercial version of Kubb/Viking chess – played outdoors on the lawn – are available here.
 imgres-36 The Lewis chessmen are thought to have been made in Scandinavia in the 12th century.
Medieval Foes With Whimsy is an article from the New York Times about the Lewis chessmen.
Also see The Isle of Lewis Chess Set on You Tube, which has great views of the pieces.
 imgres At Write Your Name in Runes, you can do just that, plus learn the runic alphabet.
From Omniglot, Runic Alphabet has information, history, and several versions of the runic alphabet (known as futhark from its first six letters).

LESSON PLANS, ETC.

 images-13 Aimed at primary-school kids, the BBC’s Vikings has questions and answers, activities, fun facts, and photo and video galleries.
 images-5 From the Core Knowledge website, The Vikings: Marauders or Explorers? is a detailed seven-part lesson plan targeted at third-graders but adaptable for a range of ages. Included are activities, lists of key terms and vocabulary words, learning goals, and resource lists.
 images-15 From Learning Through History, the Vikings Mini Unit Study has background information, a primary-source account of a Viking raid, a virtual tour of a Viking farmhouse, instructions for writing your name in runes and making a Viking costume, a Viking Quest game, and more.
diasporamap The companion website to NOVA’s The Vikings has a virtual tour of a medieval Viking village, interesting information on Viking history, a clickable map showing the extent of Viking travels, and a project in which kids make a tree-ring timeline.

MUSIC AND POETRY

 imgres-38 Music of the Viking Age is a short illustrated history.
 full_vocal_01 From the BBC’s Learning School Radio, Viking Saga Songs is an animated collection of stories and songs based on Norse mythology. Sing along with “Loki the Joker.”
 cd_wardruna Viking Music selections were inspired by the Vikings and are based on traditional Scandinavian folk tunes. Listen to examples at the website.
 imgres-39 Recreating the Jorvik Panpipes describes how a Viking instrument found at the Jorvik site was resurrected.
 imgres-40 From Odin’s Gift, Historical & Classical Poetry has examples of ancient Viking poems and sagas.
 imgres-41 From Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful Puck of Pook’s Hill, the Harp Song of the Dane Women is a poem about the Vikings.
 images-16 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Musician’s Tale is from his longer work, The Saga of King Olaf. (A favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.)
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Manners, Please

 

Manners count. They really do. Check out these resources (for perfectly polite kids).

 

 imgres Elizabeth Verdick’s Best Behavior series (Free Spirit Publishing) gets right to the point with such titles as Teeth Are Not for Biting, Hands Are Not for Hitting, and Words Are Not for Hurting. For ages 2-3.
 imgres-1 Richard Morgan’s Oops, Sorry (Barron’s Educational Series, 2005) is written in the form of a helpful quiz. “If someone gives you something nice, what do you say?” Turn the page to find out. (“Thank you!”) For ages 2-5.
 imgres-14 In Jane Yolen’s clever rhyming How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (Blue Sky Press, 2000), dinosaurs model proper going-to-bed behavior. “Does a dinosaur slam his tail and pout?/Does he throw his teddy bear all about?” (No. No, he/she doesn’t.) For ages 2-7.
There are many well-behaved dinosaur sequels, among them How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends?, How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?, and How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Room?
 imgres-3 In Mo Willems’s Time to Say “Please” (Disney-Hyperion, 2005), a gang of mice – armed with colorful word bubbles – deal with the basics of please, thank you, excuse me, and I’m sorry. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-4 In Jennifer Morris’s May I Please Have a Cookie? (Cartwheel Books, 2005), Alfie, a little alligator, tries everything he can think of to get a cookie – grabbing, disguises, tears – before finally realizing that he only needs to say “please.” For ages 3-6.
 imgres-5 In Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book (Random House, 1973), short stories starring the familiar Scarry characters – cats, pigs, and hippos (and Lowly Worm) – demonstrate good and bad behavior. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-6 Ellen Javernick’s picture book What If Everybody Did That? (Two Lions, 2010) shows the consequences of breaking rules as a boy feeds the bears at the zoo, races with a supermarket cart, interrupts at storytime, and tosses a soda can out the car window – each time to be confronted with a cross adult saying “What if everybody did that?” On the next page, there’s a picture of the awful consequences. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-7 In Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears Forget their Manners (Random House, 1985), rudeness has gotten out of hand as Brother and Sister Bear push, shove, grab for food, call names, and kick each other under the table. Mama Bear comes up with a helpful Politeness Plan. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-8 Aliki’s charmingly illustrated Manners (Greenwillow Books, 2007) explains good and bad manners through clever panel cartoons and speech bubbles, with some side comments from a trio of little birds. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-9 By Carol Wallace, Elbows off the Table, Napkin in the Lap, No Video Games During Dinner (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996) is touted as a modern guide to teaching kids manners. Many suggestions for parents of kids ages 3-12.
 imgres-10 By Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, Emily’s Everyday Manners (HarperCollins, 2006) features best friends Emily and Ethan who ride the bus, go to the playground, visit friends, and go out to dinner, all with exemplary manners. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-11 Sesyle Joslin’s wonderful What do You Say, Dear? (HarperCollins, 1986) – with illustrations by Maurice Sendak – is filled with hypothetical situations, to each of which is appended the question “What do you say, dear?” (“You are downtown and there is a gentleman giving baby elephants to people. You want to take one home because you have always wanted a baby elephant, but first the gentleman introduces you to each other.” …:”What do you say, dear?”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-12 David Shannon’s No, David! (Blue Sky Press, 1998) is an object lesson in what not to do, as irrepressible David goes from bad to worse.  For ages 4-8.
 images Karla Kuskin’s wonderful etiquette poem Rules appears in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Random House, 1983). (“Do not jump on ancient uncles/Do not yell at average mice/Do not wear a broom to breakfast/Do not ask a snake’s advice.”)
 images-1 Munro Leaf’s Manners Can Be Fun (Universe, 2004) – illustrated with goofy little stick figures – begins “Having good manners is really just living with other people pleasantly. If you lived all by yourself out on a desert island, others would not care whether you had good manners or not.” But, since most of us don’t live on desert islands, the author – with the help of some bad behavers –  covers polite ways of meeting people, table and conversation etiquette, treating people and objects with respect (don’t act like Smash, Rip, or Ruin), and taking responsibility for yourself. For ages 4-8.
In the same format, also by Leaf, see How to Behave and Why and How to Speak Politely and Why.
 imgres-13 By Audrey Wood, Elbert’s Bad Word (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996) is the witty and hilarious story of Elbert who, whacked with a croquet ball on his great toe at a garden party, lets loose (to the horror of all) a very bad word. The word – a little rat-like creature – persists in following Elbert around until finally the wizard-like estate gardener comes up with a magic spell that replaces Elbert’s bad word with a lot of sparkling creative alternatives. (RATS AND BLUE BLAZES!) I love Elbert. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-15 In Diane Cuneo’s Mary Louise Loses Her Manners (Yearling, 2000), poor Mary Louise has simply lost her manners, with awful consequences. So off she goes to try to get them back. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-16 Beth Brainard’s Soup Should be Seen, Not Heard (Good Idea Kids, 2012) – with cartoon illustrations and cute chapter titles (“Dear Grammy,” “You Can’t Wear Your Sweats to Sunday School”) – covers greetings, telephone etiquette, table manners, messages, personal grooming, and party manners. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-17 In Laurie Keller’s Do Unto Otters (Square Fish, 2009), Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are otters – OTTERS? – and he has no idea how to treat them.  What if they don’t get along? Helpful Owl suggests he follow the Golden Rule: treat the otters like you’d like them to treat you. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-18 Sandra Dutton’s Dear Miss Perfect: A Beast’s Guide to Proper Behavior (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007) is a tongue-in-cheek guide to manners through the problems of young animals, all described in letters. “Dear Miss Perfect,” fourth-grader Emily Possum writes. “My problem is that I like to hang upside down. Mama lets me do it at home. That’s how I’m most comfortable and the way I learn.” But Emily teacher says NO. How to cope? For ages 6-9.
 imgres-19 By Emilie Barnes, A Little Book of Manners: Courtesy & Kindness for Young Ladies (Harvest House Publishing, 1998) – through the eyes of young Emilie Marie – covers such topics as thank-you notes, dinner-table etiquette, party and telephone manners, and more. For ages 6-10.
Pair this one with a tea party. For books, resources, activities, and how-tos, see TEA FOR TWO (Or Many More).
imgres-20 By Bob and Emilie Barnes, also see A Little Book of Manners for Boys (Harvest House Publishers, 2000).
 imgres-21 Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin, 2007) is – I would argue – a book about the triumph of manners, as kind and honest Charlie Bucket is put up against such obnoxious contestants as greedy Augustus Gloop, spoiled Veruca Salt, and aggressive Mike Teavee. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-22 By Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, Emily Post’s Guide to Good Manners for Kids (HarperCollins, 2004) is what Emily Post would have said if Emily Post were still around. The book is divided into seven sections, covering Everyday Life, At Home, At School, At Play, Out and About, On the Go – Away From Home, and Special Occasions. For ages 8-13.
 imgres-23 Elizabeth Verdick’s 128-page humorous Don’t Behave Like You Live in a Cave (Free Spirit Publishing, 2010) – in which cartoon-style Cave Boy and Cave Girl display thoroughly bad manners throughout the book – makes a good case for the advantages of good behavior. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-24 By Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick, Dude, That’s Rude (Free Spirit Publishing, 2007) – illustrated with Simpson-like cartoon characters – is a catchy guide to etiquette using lots of real-world scenarios and a sense of humor. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-25 Sheryl Eberly’s 365 Manners Kids Should Know (Harmony, 2011) has an etiquette instruction for every day of the year, covering everything from proper jewelry and when to wear a hat to texting, television, thank-you letters, and swimming pool behavior. Included are “games and activities” to help kids learn etiquette. The author suggests a lot of parental quizzing.
 imgres-27 Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002) – in this edition, with great illustrations by Edward Gorey – was originally published in 1907. It’s a spoof on 19th century moral tales and consists of ten tales (in verse) about the awful consequences of bad behavior. Titles include “Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion” and “Rebecca Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably.” The eleventh tale and final tale is “Charles Augustus Fortescue, Who Always Did what was Right, and so Accumulated an Immense Fortune.” For ages 12 and up and all with a wicked sense of humor.
 imgres-26 By Gelett Burgess – author of the immortal poem “I Never Saw a Purple Cow” – Goops and How to Be Them (Applewood Books, 2005), originally published in 1928, is an upside-down guide to manners by way of the perfectly awful Goops. (Don’t be one!) A fun read for all ages.
 imgres-28 Alex J. Packer’s How Rude! (Free Spirit Publishing, 2014) is a tome – over 500 pages long – but packed with helpful and polite advice on everything from texting and tweeting to bullying, breakups, and jerks. Includes lots of “Dear Alex” etiquette questions. For ages 13 and up.
 images-2 John Bridges’s elegant How To Be a Gentleman (Thomas Nelson, 2012) – which opens with the “10 Eternal Truths of the Gentlemanly Life” – has ten helpful chapters, variously titled “A Gentleman Gets Dressed,” “A Gentleman Goes to Dinner,” and “A Gentleman Goes to a Party.” For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-29 For those of the opposite sex, check out Candace Simpson-Giles’s How to Be a Lady (Thomas Nelson, 2012).  (“A lady does not use her camera phone in ways that intrude upon the privacy of others.”) For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-30 Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children (Touchstone, 2002) is perfectly delightful (as are all the Miss Manners etiquette books). Sections have introductions with basic information, followed by many begging-for-advice letters, each with a terrific response from Miss Manners. An addictive read for adults.
 imgres-31 Check out George Washington’s Rules of Civility.  (“In the Presence of Others, Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.”)
 imgres-32 Lord Chesterfield’s Letters (Oxford University Press, 2008) to his son, Philip, are a fascinating window on life, society, politics, and etiquette for the 18th-century young man. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-33 Caroline Taggart’s How to Greet the Queen (National Trust, 2014) is a catchy compendium of manners for interacting with royalty. For older teenagers, adults, and royal groupies.
 images-3 Teach Your Kids Table Manners is a helpful list of what to teach when.
 imgres-34 Need help with setting the table? The Tot Talk Table Setting & Etiquette Placemat shows just where to put silverware, plates, glasses, and napkin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Astronomy

 

There are – if not quite billions and billions – at least a LOT of resources for astronomy-lovers.

Also see posts on MARS and ALL ABOUT THE MOON.

 

ALL ABOUT ASTRONOMY

 imgres Lynn Wilson’s What’s Out There? (Grosset & Dunlap, 1993) is a simply presented introduction to stars and planets, illustrated with terrific paper-collage pictures. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-1 In Joan Sweeney’s Me and My Place in Space (Dragonfly Books, 1999), the young narrator takes off on a tour of the solar system, making crayon illustrations as she goes. (Pair with crayons!) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-2 By Catherine Hughes, National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012) is a beautifully illustrated introduction, filled with basic information and catchy facts. (“If you could drive a car to the sun, it would take you 170 years.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-3 Karen Fox’s Older Than the Stars (Charlesbridge, 2011) – in catchy verse – explains how everything that makes up every one of us (and everything else) originated billions of years ago in the Big Bang. Included is a colorful timeline of the universe. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-4 Also see Michael Rubino’s Bang! How We Came to Be (Prometheus Books, 2011) for ages 8-11.
 images The Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series many astronomy-themed picture books for early-elementary-level kids. Titles include Mission to Mars, The International Space Station, What the Moon is Like, and The Planets in Our Solar System. For the complete list, see Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science.
 imgres-5 Joanne C. Letwinch’s Soaring Through the Universe: Astronomy Through Children’s Literature (Libraries Unlimited, 1999) has activities, projects, literature connections, and reproducible worksheets, variously categorized under Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, and Space Travel. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-6 Philip Harrington’s Astronomy for All Ages (Globe Pequot Press, 2000) is subtitled “Discovering the Universe Through Activities for Children and Adults.” Over fifty activities for all ages, variously covering the moon, planets, stars, constellations, and galaxies. Included are charts of lunar eclipses and meteor showers.
 imgres-7 Robin Kerrod’s Universe (Dorling Kindersley, 2009) in the popular Eyewitness series devotes a gorgeously illustrated double-page spread to each topic, among them “How the universe works,” “Comparing the planets,” “Clusters and nebulae,” “Pulsars and black holes,” and “Quasars and other active galaxies.” For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-8 I love Basher Science! Simon Basher and Dan Green’s 120+-page Astronomy: Out of This World! (Kingfisher, 2009) is clever, funny, and packed with information, much of it delivered in the anthropomorphic first person. The Sun: “I’m a total star – the center of everything, baby! A fearsome fireball burning 600 million tons of hydrogen every second, I provide light and heat for the orbiting scraps of matter called planets.” Terrific for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-9 In Neil de Grasse Tyson’s Merlin’s Tour of the Universe (Main Street Books, 1997), Tyson – in the person of Merlin, an omniscient visitor from the Andromeda Galaxy, answers astronomy questions from kids and adults on topics “from Mars and Quasars to comets, Planets, Blue Moons, and Werewolves.” A great read for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-10 Also see Tyson’s Just Visiting This Planet (Main Street Books, 1998) in which Merlin returns to answer a second round of questions.
 imgres-11 By Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, A Black Hole is Not a Hole (Charlesbridge, 2012) is a reader-friendly account of gravity, quasars, black holes, and the event horizon, written with both expertise and a sense of humor. (“A black hole is nothing to look at. Literally.”) For ages 11 and up.
 imgres-12 Chet Raymo’s 365 Starry Nights (Simon & Schuster, 1990) has star maps, well-presented scientific information and an astronomical adventure for every night of the year. A great family resource.
Also see the (unrelated) 365 Days of Astronomy which has an informational astronomical podcast for every day of the year.
 imgres-13 Bob Berman’s Secrets of the Night Sky (Harper Paperbacks, 1996): subtitled “The Most Amazing Things in the Universe You Can See with the Naked Eye,” is a fascinating collection of essays on everything from the Big Dipper to the aurora borealis. Though intended for adults, these make for great astronomical family read-alouds. Also included are helpful appendices on selecting binoculars and buying a telescope.
 imgres-14 NASA’s Starchild is a “Learning Center for Young Astronomers.” Visitors learn about the solar system, universe, and outer space with a wide range of activities. For elementary- and middle-school-level kids.
 imgres-15 NASA’s Space Place is a great resource, with many interactive projects, activities, and explorations for kids of all ages, categorized under Space, Sun, Earth, Solar System, and Peiople & Technology.
 imgres-16 NASA’s Imagine the Universe has information, multimedia exhibits, interactive projects and activities (some using real satellite data), and more. Designed for ages 14 and up.
 imgres-18 Astronomy Basics for Children is a nicely organized hyperlinked list, covering What Astronomers Do, How Did the Universe Begin, Home Sweet Home, The Light We Live By, Eight or Nine Planets, and How Far Does the Apple Fall from the Tree? Included are astronomy calculators, a mnemonic for remembering the plants in order, a tutorial on the Milky Way, and more.
 imgres-18 At Kids Astronomy, kids can explore the solar system, deep space, and space travel via creative animations. Also included are an astronomy dictionary, current observation info about tonight’s sky, and free online astronomy classes for either ages 7-11 or 12-18.
 imgres-20 From NASA and Montana State University’s Ceres Project, Educational Activities has a list of very well-organized lesson plans for a range of ages. Sample titles: Sky Paths: Studying the Movement of Celestial Objects, Learning Planet sizes, MarsQuest, and The Expanding Universe.
 imgres-17 Dark Skies, Bright Kids has a instructions for some great astronomy activities: for example, kids made model comets, explore invisible light, make pocket solar systems, and launch bottle rockets.
 imgres-21 See Space Science Teaching for a lesson plan on navigating by the North Star, constellation teaching resources, a map of the northern circumpolar constellations, and more. (Learn how to make a sextant!)
 images-1 From Core Knowledge, Astronomy is an excellent nine-part lesson plan targeted at third-graders. Various sections – all with instructions and materials and resource lists – cover Origins of the Universe; Galaxies; the Solar System; Planetary Motion; Gravity; Asteroids, Meteors, and Comets; Eclipses; Stars, Constellations, and Orienteering; and Exploration of Space.
 imgres-22 At Ology, the American Museum of Natural History’s website for kids, learn all about astronomy, take a virtual tour of the solar system, find out if you’re a likely candidate for a colony on Mars, build the Big Dipper, and more.
 imgres-23 Stardate is the public education and outreach branch of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. Visit the website for episodes of the informational Stardate radio program, a moon phase calendar, an illustrated “Astro Guide” to the universe, and a downloadable teacher’s lesson plan guide.
 imgres-24 At the University of Illinois Department of Astronomy, click on Resources for a helpful list of demos and animations (topics, for example, include lunar phases, Kepler’s laws, and the Doppler effect), portraits of stars, a complete list of constellations, an astronomy picture of the day, and – for chemists – an “astromolecule” of the month.
 imgres-26 For interested amateur astronomers, Astronomy magazine is filled with news and information about astronomy and sky-viewing. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-25 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a 13-part 2014 science documentary hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an update of Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, aired on PBS in 1980. A great way to get an astronomy education.
 imgres-27 At the Hubble Site, learn all about the Hubble telescope and its discoveries., and get the scoop on the Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble’s successor. Included at the site are videos, podcasts, a photo gallery, and more.

STARS AND STARGAZING

 imgres-28 Anne Rockwell’s Our Stars (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002) has bright pictures and a short simple text for ages 3-6.
 imgres-29 In the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, Franklyn Branley’s The Sky Is Full of Stars (HarperCollins, 1983) is a simple introduction to stars and stargazing for ages 4-8.
 images-2 C.E. Thompson’s Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations (Grosset & Dunlap, 1999) is a straightforward introduction to ten major constellations, each given a double-page spread. (And they glow in the dark.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-30 By Gail Gibbons, The Stargazers (Holiday House, 1999), illustrated with bright attractive drawings, covers stargazers, ancient and modern, stars and constellations, and the operation of telescopes and planetariums. A straightforward introduction for ages 5-8.
 imgres-31 Seymour Simon’s Stars HarperCollins, 2006) and Galaxies (HarperCollins, 1991) are excellent introductions, illustrated with spectacular full-page color photographs. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-32 Looking up, of course, is easy; the trick is to know just what you’re looking up at. A wonderful help here is H.A. Rey’s 72-page Find the Constellations (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2008) – an excellent (and classic) beginner’s guide to the stars for ages 5-11.
 imgres-33 For older kids, check out Rey’s The Stars: A New Way to See Them (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2008), 160 pages of beautifully presented information, diagrams, drawings, and star maps. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-34 A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky by Michael Driscoll (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2004), illustrated with photos, diagrams, and colorful cartoon drawings, is divided into two main sections: “What’s Up There?” (including “What We Can See” and “What We Can’t See”) and “Exploring What’s Up There,” which provides guidelines for sky viewing through the four seasons of the year. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-35 Joan Marie Galat’s Dot to Dot in the Sky:Stories in the Stars (Whitecap Books, 2010) has scientific facts and a mythological story for each of fifteen prominent constellations. A star chart and “dot-to-dot” patterns help beginners locate them in the sky, For ages 8-12.
  Also by Galat in the same Dot to Dot in the Sky series are Stories of the Planets, Stories of the Zodiac, and Stories of the Moon.
 imgres-36 Terence Dickinson’s Exploring the Night Sky (Firefly Books, 1987) is an excellent star-spotting resource, featuring a “Cosmic Voyage” in “40 jumps” from the neighborly Moon to distant galaxies; an overview of the solar system and deep space; and a stargazing guide. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-37 Fran Lee’s Wishing on a Star: Constellation Stories and Stargazing Activities for Kids (Gibbs Smith, 2001) shows kids how to make a “twinkling thaumatrope” (a Victorian spinning toy), a star-patterned kite, and a star mobile, and includes script and instructions for performing a constellation myth play.
 imgres-38 The barebones stargazer doesn’t need more than a star map, a red-cellophane-covered flashlight for peeking at it (red light won’t interfere with your night vision), and a comfy blanket. A wonderful extra, however, is a green laser pointer. These are much brighter than the red versions, and the green beam dot shows up in midair, which means that it can be used for pointing at stars and constellations  (“skypointing”). (Prices vary from about $25 to $100.)
 imgres-39 Bob Crelin’s picture-book There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars (Sky Publishing, 2007), in simple rhyming text, describes the wonders of the night sky and their loss due to light pollution. For more information, visit the International Dark Sky Association at http://www.darksky.org.
 imgres-24 From the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, see the resource guide Dark Night Skies: Dealing with Light Pollution, which includes websites, books, articles online and in print, and activities for students.
 imgres-40 Bruce LaFontaine’s Constellations of the Night Sky (Dover, 2003) is a 48-page informational coloring book from Dover Publications.
 imgres-41 Enchanted Learning has a large collection of printable constellation connect-the-dot puzzles.
 imgres-42 Donna Young’s Pringles Can Viewer and Constellation Slides has printable constellation slides and instructions.
 imgres-43 For the ambitious, see How to Build an LED Plantetarium.
 imgres-44 Make Your Own Tin Can Pinhole Planetarium has illustrated instructions.
  This Shoebox Planetarium Project has complete instructions – suggested as a group project for learning constellations.
 imgres-45 Skymaps offers free printable monthly sky maps (both northern and southern hemispheres) and a monthly sky calendar of best objects to see with binoculars, telescope, or naked eye.
 imgres-24 Amazing Space has a gallery of Hubble images, “Tonight’s Sky,” a guide to currently viewable constellations and other night-sky objects, and a long list of terrific interactive explorations for kids on galaxies, comets, black holes, the solar system, and more.
 imgres-15 From NASA’s Space Place, Make a Star Finder has instructions and printable star-map patterns for each month of the year.
 imgres-46 See these instructions for making origami dream stars.
 imgres-47 From the Van Gogh Gallery, learn about and view Van Gogh’s Starry Night and other starry paintings. (Try painting one of your own.)

STAR STORIES

 imgres-48 Harriet Peck Taylor’s Coyote Places the Stars (Aladdin, 1997) is a picture-book tale of the irrepressible Coyote who climbs a ladder to the moon and there makes wonderful animal pictures in the sky by shooting arrows at the stars. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-49 Jerrie Oughton’s How the Stars Fell Into the Sky (Sandpiper, 1996) is a Navajo legend about the origin of the stars and constellations. First Woman is making a careful pattern – a “careful mosaic on the blackberry cloth of night” – until impatient Coyote decides to help. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-50 Jacqueline Mitton’s Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2006) pairs animal legends and a bit of scientific information with gorgeous silver-star-studded paintings by Christina Balit. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-51 Also by Jacqueline Mitton and Christina Balit, see Once Upon a Starry Night (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) for star stories from Greek myths; and Zodiac: Celestial Circle of the Sun (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008), for science, history, and legends of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-52 Joseph Bruchac’s The Earth Under Sky Bear’s Feet (Putnam Juvenile, 1998) is a collection of poems based on tribal legends of the Sky Bear (Big Dipper), illustrated with oil paintings. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-53 They Dance in the Sky by Jean Guard Monroe and Ray A. Williamson (Sandpiper, 2007) is a 144-page collection of star myths from a wide range of Indian tribes, among them Navajo, Pawnee, Micmac, Tlingit, and Mohawk. For ages 9 and up.
 41eFej1QIBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Keepers of the Night by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac (Fulcrum Publishing, 1994) pairs native American star legends with activities, games, and science and nature experiments.

 THE SOLAR SYSTEM

 imgres-54 In Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System (Scholastic, 1992), the planetarium is closed, so Miss Frizzle launches her class into space on board the magic school bus, where they take a tour of the solar system. Must of the information is delivered via hand-printed student reports. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-55 By Jacqueline Mitton – who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics – The Planet Gods (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2008) combines science with mythology and legends about the planets in our solar system. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-56 Seymour Simon’s Our Solar System (HarperCollins, 2007), illustrated with spectacular full-page color photographs, covers the sun, the planets and their moons, and asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-57 Astronomer David Aguilar’s 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2011) brings readers up to date on the solar system, including its latest inhabitants, Ceres and Eris. Illustrated with wonderful photos and diagrams. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-58 Elaine Scott’s When is a Planet Not a Planet? (Clarion Books, 2007) is the story of Pluto, downgraded in 2006 from “planet” to “dwarf planet.” For ages 9-12.
 imgres-59 Also see Elizabeth Rusch’s The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto (Cooper Square Publishing, 2007) for ages 4-8.
 imgres-60 Exploring the Solar System by Mary Kay Carson (Chicago Review Press, 2006) is “A History with 22 Activities” charting space science from its ancient beginnings to the present day. Attractive diagrams demonstrate planetary motion, the inner workings of reflector, refractor, and compound telescopes, and the anatomy of a rocket; colored boxes hold capsule biographies of such famous space scientists as William Herschel, Robert Goddard, Edmond Halley, Edwin Hubble, and Yuri Gagarin.  Projects include building a spectroscope (you’ll need an old CD), making craters in the kitchen, watching for satellites, taking a walk to Pluto, and making a map of the Moon. For ages 9 and up.
  The Thousand-Yard Model is an exercise for visualizing the (enormous) of the solar system. You’ll need peppercorns and pins.

SPACE EXPLORATION

 imgres-61 In Meghan McCarthy’s Astronaut Handbook (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008), four adorably pop-eyed kids head off for astronaut school. Readers learn what astronaut training is all about. Delightful for ages 4-8.
 imgres-62 Patrick O’Brien’s You Are the First Kid on Mars (Putnam Juvenile, 2009) stars a little boy in an orange space suit traveling to Mars via space elevator, space station, and Nuclear Thermal Rocket (which last travels at a thrilling 75,000 miles per hour), and finally arriving at a Martian colony populated by scientists and engineers. The book is illustrated with wonderful photorealistic paintings, peppered with interesting facts, and written in the second person, which gives the text a feel of you-are-there immediacy. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-63 Carole Stott’s Space Exploration (Dorling Kindersley, 2009), an Eyewitness book, covers each topic in a double-page spread, creatively illustrated with photographs. Topics include “What is space?” “Rocket science,” “Man on the moon,” “Space stations,” and “Landers and discoverers.” For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-64 Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts (Candlewick, 2009) is a fascinating (and infuriating) photo-essay about 13 women who almost became astronauts – and by doing so, opened the way to space for women. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-67 Best, of course, would be to take a trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – but, lacking that, there’s a lot of good stuff online. For example, check out the exhibit of artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission.
 imgres-68 Want to help search for extraterrestrial intelligence? Visit SETI@home and find out how.
 imgres-24 Discovery Education has a large assortment of space-based lesson plans for a range of ages. Among the titles: Space Milestones, Understanding Space Travel, and Life in Space.

 POEMS

 imgres-69 Laura Purdie Salas’s And Then There Were Eight (A+ Books, 2008) combines 15 poems about astronomy and space exploration with gorgeous color photographs. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-70 Douglas Florian’s Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2007) is an illustrated collection of catchy space poems for ages 5 and up.
 imgres-71 Amy Sklansky’s Out of This World (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) is a clever collection of 20 illustrated poems about space travel and astronomy, with general information and cool factoids presented in sidebars. A great pick for ages 5 and up.
 imgres-72 Jack Prelutsky’s The Swamps of Sleethe (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009) – subtitled “Poems From Beyond the Solar System” – is a fun but creepy collection about aliens that you really don’t want to meet. For kids who like a touch of the scary. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-73 Walt Whitman’s When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer is not a plug for science. Go on. Discuss.
 imgres-24 This collection of Astronomy-Related Poetry includes selections by Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Sara Teasdale, and Edgar Allan Poe.
 imgres-24 Alan Shapiro’s Astronomy Lesson begins with two boys on the front porch, looking up.

 AND SOME SCIENCE FICTION

From the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics is a terrific (and long) categorized list.
 images-3 Jane Yolen’s Commander Toad in Space (Puffin, 1996)  is the first of a series starring the “bold and bright” Commander Toad and his crew on the spaceship Star Warts. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-75 Mark Kelly’s Mousetronaut (Paula Wiseman Books, 2012) (“based on a (partially) true story”) features Meteor, a very small mouse, who saves a mission on the space shuttle Endeavor. Includes a lot of helpful info about daily life on the space shuttle. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-76 In Mary Pope Osborne’s Midnight on the Moon (Random House, 1996), one of the popular Magic Tree House series, Jack and Annie go forward in time and end up at the International Space Station on the moon. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-77 In Eleanor Cameron’s The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (Little, Brown, 1988), Chuck and David build a homemade space ship and head off in with odd little scientist Mr. Bass to the green planet of Basidium. For ages 8-11.
 imgres-78 In Adam Rex’s funny and delightful The True Meaning of Smekday, aliens known as the Boov have taken over the Earth and forced all humans to relocate to Florida. Eleven-year-old Tip Tucci and a renegade Boov end up on a wild cross-country trip trying to find Tip’s mother and, incidentally, to save the world. A riotous read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-79 In Jill Paton Walsh’s The Green Book (Square Fish, 2012), Pattie and family have left the dying Earth to settle on the new planet of Shine – though on this beautiful crystalline planet it soon becomes clear that they may not be able to survive. (Readers learn on page one that colonists are only allowed to take one book per passenger – which makes for a discussion right there.) For ages 8-12.
 imgres-80 By Stephen Hawking – yes, the Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy, in George’s Secret Key to the Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2009), George ends up traveling through space with the scientist next door, his daughter Annie, and a super-computer named Cosmos. There’s a lot of good science here – readers, for example, learn a lot about black holes – but the text can be labored. (“Why, George, science is a wonderful and fascinating subject that helps us understand the world around us.”) For ages 8-12.
 imgres-81 In Borgel (Aladdin, 1992), by the hysterically funny Daniel Pinkwater, young Marvin Spellbound is taken on an intergalactic road trip by his Uncle Borgel in search of the elusive Giant Popsicle. Uncle Borgel – who travels with 32 small black suitcases – turns out to be 111 years old and an experienced time-and-space traveler. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-82 In Mark Haddon’s Boom! (Yearling, 2011) best friends Jimbo and Charlie overhear two of their teachers talking in a strange language and – curious – decide to investigate. It turns out that they’re aliens, kidnapping science-fiction fans to repopulate their dying planet. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-83 In John Christopher’s The White Mountains (Aladdin, 2014), the Tripods – giant alien machines – have taken over the Earth. Young Will Parker – about to turn 13 and due to undergo the Capping ceremony that will put him under the Tripods’ control – instead runs away to the White Mountains, hoping to join the anti-Tripod rebels. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-84 In Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (Square Fish, 2007), originally published in 1962, Meg Murry, along with her five-year-old genius brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin, are transported across the universe with the help of the mysterious Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who (and a tesseract) to find Meg’s lost scientist father. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-85 Ray Bradbury’s classic The Martian Chronicles (Simon & Schuster, 2012) is a collection of short stories on the colonization of Mars. Titles include “Rocket Summer,” “The Settlers,” “The Old Ones,” “The Silent Towns,” and “The Million-Year Picnic.” A wonderful read for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-86 In Robert Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky (Pocket Books, 2005), Rod Walker, who wants to be a professional space colonist guide, is sent to a distant planet with other members of his high-school class for a short survival test. Something, however, goes terribly wrong and the kids are stranded. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-87 In Ursula LeGuin’s The Word for World is Forest (Tor, 2010), the peaceful forest planet of Athshe has been colonized by yumans – us – who are exploiting the “primitive” green-furred natives. Talk about metaphors. A good discussion book for ages 13 and up.
 imgres-88 In Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (Tor, 1994), the government is training child geniuses as soldiers to combat a hostile alien race. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-89 In C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet (Scribner, 2003), Dr. Ransom is kidnapped by scientists Weston and Devine and taken to Malacandra (Mars), where they plan to turn him over to the sorns – the Malacandran natives – as a sacrifice. Along with the two sequels, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, these are not only exciting science fiction adventures, but raise issues of theology and ethics. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-90 In Douglas Adams’s irresistible The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Del Ray, 1995), Arthur Dent is yanked off Earth by his friend Ford Prefect – who is really an alien – seconds before the planet is demolished to make way of an intergalactic freeway. Always remember: (1) a towel is the most useful thing a space traveler can carry and (2) Don’t panic. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-91 Frank Herbert’s Dune (Ace, 1990) – set on the desert planet of Arrakis – is the story of Paul Atreides who joins the desert-dwelling Fremen and becomes the legendary leader Muad’Dib. The book is a rich combination of politics, environmentalism, and religion, with giant sand worms. For ages 13 and up.

 

 

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WOOF! All About Dogs

 

Literature is full of dogs. There’s Dorothy’s sidekick Toto; Tintin’s buddy Snowy; brave Nana, who did her best to keep Wendy, Michael, and John from flying off to Neverland with Peter Pan; Tock, the watchdog, in The Phantom Tollbooth; Argos in The Odyssey – the only one to recognize his master upon his return; and Cerberus, the three-headed dog who in Greek mythology guards the entrance to the Underworld. And, of course, dozens more, fictional, non-fictional, funny, fierce, or famous.

See below for many great dog books, dog poems, resources for science (and dogs), math (and dogs), astronomy (and dogs), helpful how-tos for young dog owners, and more.

Let’s be fair. Also see CATS.

 

DOG PICTURE BOOKS

 imgres In Mercer Mayer’s priceless A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog (Dial, 2003), a boy and his dog discover a frog in a pond and set out to catch it.  They fail, spectacularly, and eventually (frog-less) head home for a bath. The frog, left behind, misses them and by the end of the book, has followed and joined them in the tub. A simple wordless story (with more in the series) for ages 2-7.
See A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog on You Tube for a great real-life version of the story.
 imgres-1 In Norman Bridwell’s Clifford, the Big Red Dog (Cartwheel Books, 2010), Emily Elizabeth has a truly GIANT dog. There are many books in this series for ages 3-6.
 imgres-2 In Greg Gormley’s Dog in Boots (Holiday House, 2011), Dog – inspired by the story of “Puss in Boots” – heads for the shoe store for an impressive pair of boots.  The boots, unfortunately, aren’t much good for digging, so back they go. Next Dog tries a pair of galoshes – which aren’t much good for swimming. Eventually he runs through a long list of footwear, from flippers to skis to high heels, only to decide that his own furry paws are the best. At the end of the book, Dog is reading a story about a girl with a terrific red hood. For ages 3-6.
 images In Jules Feiffer’s delightful Bark, George (HarperCollins, 1999), George does everything but bark. When told by his mother to bark, George meows. “No, George,” said George’s mother. “Cats go meow. Dogs go arf. Now, bark, George.” George went: “Oink.” Funny and adorable for ages 3-7.
 imgres-3 Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear (Roaring Brook Press, 2007) is a collection of three short stories about irrepressible Dog and his shy, often baffled, best friend Bear. (They’re somewhat reminiscent of Arnold Lobel’s wonderful duo, Frog and Toad.) Dog announces that he’s changing his name. “From now on, call me SPOT.” “But you don’t have any spots,” Bear says. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-4 In Maurice Sendak’s Some Swell Pup; or, Are You Sure You Want a Dog? (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976) – illustrated panel-cartoon-style – a pair of new puppy owners learn to cope with their obstreperous new charge. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-5 Gene Zion’s Harry the Dirty Dog (HarperCollins, 2006) is the  story of Harry, a dog who “liked everything, except getting a bath.” That is, until one day when Harry has so many grubby adventures that he changes from a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-6 In Keiko Kasza’s The Dog Who Cried Wolf (Puffin, 2009), Michelle reads her dog Moka a book about wolves – and Moka immediately decides that he’d like to be a wolf, running around free, hunting wild animals, and staying up late to howl at the moon. (“Look at the way I live,” Moka sighed. “I’m nothing but a house pet.” He felt like a failure, especially when Michelle made him dress up for her tea parties.) So Moka runs away to be a wolf, which isn’t as much fun as he thought it would be. Funny and charming for ages 4-7.
 imgres-7 In Lori Mortensen’s rhyming Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg (Clarion, 2013), tidy Cowpoke Clyde has scrubbed everything in the house – except Dawg. As Clyde moves in with soap and water, Dawg bolts, and there follows a rambunctious chase involving everything from chickens to pigs, cats, and a kicking mule. For ages 4-7.
  imgres-13 In Susan Meddaugh’s Martha Speaks (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1992), Martha, the family dog, eats a bowl of alphabet soup – and suddenly she can talk. The problem: sometimes Martha talks too much. Many funny sequels, for ages 4-8.
 imgres-9 In Elizabeth Bluemle’s giggle-provoking My Father the Dog (Candlewick, 2008), Dad may look human, but the young narrator makes a convincing case that – behavior-wise – her father is really a dog. For ages 4-8.
 images-1 In Caralyn Buehner’s Dex: The Heart of a Hero (HarperCollins, 2007), Dex is a very small dog, so puny that Cleevis the cat bullies him. Dex, however, is determined to be a superhero. He heads to the library for background reading material, subscribes to an exercise regime, and even orders himself a catchy superhero suit. Soon he’s out doing good deeds – even rescuing Cleevis from a tree. By the end of the book, Dex and Cleevis have teamed up for what looks to be a beautiful and heroic friendship. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-11 In Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge (Simon Spotlight, 1996), Henry, an only child who lives on a block without any other kids, is lonesome, so he asks for a dog. Enter Mudge, who rapidly goes from being a tiny puppy to a perfectly enormous dog – and Henry’s best friend. A good pick for beginning readers. Many sequels. For ages 5-7.
 imgres-12 By William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, Walter the Farting Dog (Puffin, 2008) – dedicated to “everyone who’s ever felt misjudged or misunderstood” – is the story of the unfortunate Walter, doomed to be sent to the pound for his continual farting. (This word alone sends children into giggling fits.) Then burglars break in and Walter’s affliction turns him into a hero. Several sequels. It’s not my pick, but look at all those chortling kids. For ages 5-8. Especially the ones who think “poop” is screamingly funny.

BOOKS FOR OLDER DOG LOVERS

 imgres-15 Meindert DeJong’s Newbery Honor book Along Came a Dog (HarperCollins, 1980) is the lovely and heartwarming story of a friendship between a homeless dog and a lonely little red hen. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-16 Eric Knight’s Lassie Come Home (Square Fish, 2007), originally published in 1940 and now available in many editions, has led to movie versions and a television series. The book features Lassie, the prize collie belonging to young Joe Carraclough, who has to be sold when the family falls into hard times. Taken to the north of Scotland by her new owner – the Duke of Rudling – Lassie escapes and makes the long trek home to Joe. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-17 The 1943 film version of Lassie Come Home stars Roddy MacDowell as young Joe and Elizabeth Taylor as Priscilla, the Duke’s sympathetic daughter. Rated G.
 imgres-18 In Eleanor Estes’s Ginger Pye (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000), siblings Jerry and Rachel Pye love their dog Ginger, the smartest dog ever. Then – on Thanksgiving Day – Ginger is stolen. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-19 Check your library for Mary Stolz’s A Dog on Barkham Street (HarperCollins, 1960) – it’s out of print, but worth tracking down. Main character Edward Frost wants just two things: to be free of neighborhood bully Martin Hastings and to have a dog. Then his wandering on-the-road Uncle Josh shows up with a dog – Argess – who adopts Edward as his boy. For ages 8-11.
 imgres-20 In Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Newbery winner Shiloh (Atheneum, 1991), 11-year-old Marty Preston, growing up in rural West Virginia, finds an abused beagle puppy.  Knowing that the puppy will be mistreated if returned to its rightful owner – the rotten Judd Travers – Marty struggles with moral values and a determination to protect the dog he has come to love. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-21 Avi’s The Good Dog (Atheneum, 2003) is written from the point of view of a malamute named McKinley, head dog in the community of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. McKinley’s life changes dramatically when he meets the greyhound Duchess, an abused runaway trying to evade her owner, and Lupin, a wolf, trying to recruit dogs to join her pack. He also has to deal with the aggressive setter, Redburn, who wants to take McKinley’s place as head dog.  An exciting story populated with very real dogs. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-22 By Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers, in Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society (Henry Holt and Company, 2007), the dog members collect assorted stories from dogs from all places and times. (WOOF stands for “Words of Our Friends.”) For ages 8-12.
 imgres-23 In Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmatians (Puffin, 1989), originally published in 1956, Pongo and Missis Pongo’s fifteen puppies have been kidnapped by Cruella de Vil and taken to her ancestral home, Hell Hall, where she plans to have them skinned and made into fur coats. Pongo and Missis discover their whereabouts with the help of the dogs’ communication network (“Twilight Barking”) and head off to rescue their brood, along with all the other Dalmatian captives at the Hall. Believe me, much better than the movie. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-24 In Sarah Lean’s A Dog Called Homeless (Katherine Tegen Books, 2014), 11-year-old Cally’s mother has died; her father, grief-stricken himself, is unable to help; and so Cally, convinced that nothing she says matters, has given up talking altogether. Then she starts seeing visions of her mother, accompanied by a large dog, who also shows up in company with a homeless man, Jed, in the park. Then Cally, her father, and older brother Luke, move into an apartment, where Cally befriends Sam – blind and nearly deaf – and his mother. Eventually with the help of friends, family, and a dog, Cally begins to heal. For ages 8-12.
A Dog Called Homeless has discussion questions and activities to accompany the book. For example, kids create memory boxes and communicate using the deaf-blind alphabet.
 imgres-25 By Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows is the story of ten-year-old Billy Coleman, growing up in the Ozarks, with his two coonhounds, Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s a powerful and emotional story with a tragic ending – though Billy eventually finds some comfort in the native American legend of the red fern. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-26 In Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie (Candlewick, 2009), ten-year-old Opal and her preacher father have just moved to the little town of Naomi, Florida, when Opal finds a homeless and homely dog at the Winn-Dixie grocery store. She names the dog after the store – and the pair proceed to make friends with guitar-playing, ex-convict, pet store owner Otis; librarian Miss Franny Block, whose great-grandfather invented Litmus Lozenges; and even Gloria Dump, who just might possibly be a witch. A great story about life, people, and dogs, with a wonderful cast of characters. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-27 The film version of Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) is rated PG.
 imgres-28 Sheila Burnford’s now-classic The Incredible Journey (Yearling, 1997) is the story of two dogs – Luath, a young Labrador retriever and Bodger, an elderly bull terrier – and Tao, a Siamese cat, who join forces to survive a harrowing trek across the Canadian wilderness to find their owners. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-29 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) is a re-make of the original movie, made in 1963. The new version is set in California. Rated G.
 imgres-30 In Survivors (HarperCollins, 2013), Erin Hunter – author(s) of the Warriors and Seekers animal fantasy series – turns her collective attention to dogs. A series for ages 9 and up.
 imgres-31 Fred Gipson’s Old Yeller (HarperPerennial, 2009) has been breaking hearts since it was first published in 1956. In charge of the family ranch while his father is off on a cattle drive, young Travis adopts a mongrel yellow dog, who proves himself a hero many times over, saving the family from bears, hogs, and – tragically – a rabies-infected wolf, who gives Old Yeller the disease. There’s a positive end (Old Yeller fathered puppies), but it’s still a tearjerker. For ages 10 and up. With tissues.
 imgres-32 The Disney film version of Old Yeller (1957) stars Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker, and Tommy Kirk.
 imgres-33 In William H. Armstrong’s Newbery winner Sounder (HarperCollins, 2002), Sounder is the loyal hound belonging to a family of black sharecroppers in the Depression-era South. When the father of the family is arrested for stealing, Sounder is shot and disappears, and the oldest son of the family – who desperately wants to learn to read – is left to support the family as best he can. Ultimately father and dog come home, and – though the ending is sad – the family finds healing. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-34 The film version of Sounder (1972) is rated G and stars Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, and Kevin Hooks.
 imgres-35 I have to sympathize with Wallace Wallace, star of Gordon Korman’s No More Dead Dogs (Disney-Hyperion, 2002). Hyper-honest eighth-grade football player Wallace has had it with books in which the dog dies, and so refuses to write a favorable book report about the current class read, Old Shep, My Pal. As punishment, Wallace is forced to attend rehearsals of the Drama Club’s production of Old Shep – and finds that he has a lot of suggestions. Snappy, funny, and the dog – in Wallace’s hands -makes it. For ages 11-14.
 imgres-36 Clifford Simak’s City (Ace, 1952) is a collection of eight stories set in the distant future in which human beings have left Earth, leaving behind only robots and a population of now highly evolved and articulate dogs. Check your library. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-37 Paul Auster’s Timbuktu (Picador, 2009) is the story of a schizophrenic homeless man, Willy Christmas, and his dog, Mr. Bones. Willy is dying, and so sets off on a trek from Brooklyn to Baltimore to find his former high-school English teacher, hoping to find both a home for his dog – and for the collection of manuscripts that he has written and stashed at the Greyhound bus terminal. The story is told from the point of view of Mr. Bones. For older teenagers and adults.

DOG MYSTERIES

 imgres-38 In John Erickson’s Hank the Cowdog Series, beginning with The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog (Maverick Books, 2011), the ever-suspicious Hank is the head of security on a Texas ranch where – with the help of his assistant, Drover (whose old leg wound acts up at the least hint of danger) – he solves giggle-provoking mysteries involving Night-Stalking Bone Monsters, Swirling Killer Tornadoes, Kidnapped Collies, and Vampire Cats. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-39 In Play Dead (Scholastic, 2013), the first of the A Dog and His Girl mystery series by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines-Stephens, readers are introduced to Dodge, a police dog, retired from the force after an accident leaves him deaf in one ear, and his new owner Cassie, a 12-year-old with a nose for mysteries (helped along by her mother, a police chief, and her dad, a coroner). For ages 8-12.
 imgres-40 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, originally published in 1902, is available in many editions. Set on Dartmoor in Devon, this is the story of the attempted murder (via family curse) of the Baskerville heir, based on the legend of a terrible supernatural hound. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, of course, solve the case.
  At Project Gutenberg, read The Hound of the Baskervilles online.
 imgres-41 Film versions include the 1939 Hound of the Baskervilles with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce and the 1959 Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing and Andre Morell.
  For many more books and resources for mystery lovers, see Sherlock and Company: A Multitude of Mysteries.

 LIFE WITH DOGS

 imgres-42 I love James Thurber’s awful Airedale Muggs – star of “The Dog That Bit People,” which short story appears in Thurber’s hilarious biographical My Life and Hard Times (Harper Perennial, 1999). (Each Christmas the Thurber family doled out boxes of candy to all the people Muggs had bitten.)
Read The Dog That Bit People online.
 imgres-43 Farley Mowat’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be (Bantam, 1984) is the story of the author’s boyhood on the Canadian prairies in company with his wonderful dog Mutt (purchased as a puppy for four cents). A great read-aloud for all ages.
 imgres-44 From the Editors of The Bark, Dog is My Co-Pilot (Crown, 2004) is a collection of short stories, essays, and reflections on dogs by a wide range of well-known writers, among them Alice Walker, Ann Patchett, and Maxine Kumin. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-45 In John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley (Penguin Books, 1980), Steinbeck, aged 58, sets off in a pick-up truck (Rocinante) on a cross-country trip with his poodle, Charley, in search of America. A great memoir/travel book (with dog) for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-46 John Grogan’s best-seller Marley and Me (William Morrow, 2008) is the story of family life with Marley, a badly behaved but lovable golden Lab. (Grogan calls him “the world’s worst dog.”) For teenagers and adults.
 images-2 J.R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip (New York Review of Books Classics, 2010) is the story of a curmudgeonly British writer’s unexpectedly close sixteen-year-long relationship with Tulip, his German shepherd. For teenagers and adults.
The animated film version of My Dog Tulip (2009) is voiced by Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini,

SLED DOGS

 images-3 The Sled Dog Relay That Inspired the Iditarod is the story of the “Great Race of Mercy,” involving 20 drivers and 150 dogs, who collaborated to bring diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to the beleaguered town of Nome, 1000 miles away.
From the Iditarod Education Portal, see these lists of non-fiction and fiction books for kids. The website also has a long list of interdisciplinary activities and lesson plans.
 imgres-47 In Robert Blake’s Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod (Puffin, 2004), Akiak – lead husky on her Iditarod team – injures her paw and has to be left behind. Feisty Akiak, however, sets off to catch up with her owner. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-48 Natalie Standiford’s The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Random House, 1989) is the story of Balto, the sled dog who led his team through the Alaskan wilderness to deliver diphtheria antitoxin to sick children in Nome. Based on a true occurrence in 1925. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-49 Debbie Miller’s The Great Serum Race (Walker Children’s Books, 2006) is the story of the 1925 serum run, in which twenty teams of sled dogs – among them Togo and Balto – brought diphtheria antitoxin to the town of Nome, Alaska. It’s this heroic race that is commemorated annually by the Iditarod. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-50 Also see Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Balto and the Great Race (Random House, 2009), a more detailed account of the story for ages 8-11.
 imgres-51 In 1985, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the 1000+-mile Iditarod race. She tells her story in Storm Run (Sasquatch Books, 2002). For ages 6-10.
 imgres-52 Joe Funk’s Mush! The Sled Dogs of the Iditarod (Scholastic, 2013) is a short chapter book covering sled dogs, the Iditarod (sometimes called the “Last Great Race on Earth”), the tools and techniques of dogsled racing, and famous racing dogs. Illustrated with maps and color photographs. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-53 In John Reynolds Gardiner’s Stone Fox (HarperCollins, 2010) Little Willy is determined to win a dog sled race in order to use the prize money to save his grandfather’s farm. The problem is that Willy and his dog Searchlight are up against Stone Fox, a massive and silent native American who has never lost a race. The wonderful ending always makes me cry. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-54 Jack London’s Call of the Wild (Kingfisher Classics, 2002), originally published in 1903, is set during the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck, the main character, is stolen from his home in California and taken to the Yukon, where he must survive as a sled dog. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-55 In Gary Paulsen’s Newbery Honor book Dogsong (Simon Pulse, 2007), young Russel Susskit takes the village shaman Oogruk’s dog team and heads off on a voyage of self-discovery across the Alaskan wilderness. For ages 12 and up.

HELPFUL DOGS

 imgres-56 In Glenna Lang’s picture-book Looking Out for Sarah (Charlesbridge, 2003), Perry, a guide dog, helps Sarah, who is blind, as she goes through the day. For ages 4-7.
At How Guide Dogs Work, find out all about guide dogs for the blind, including what they do and how they are trained.
 imgres-57 In Mary Pope Osborne’s 46th Magic Tree House book, Dogs in the Dead of Night (Random House, 2013), Jack and Annie – searching for a rare flower needed to break a magic spell – end up at a monastery in the Swiss Alps, where they meet up with Barry, a St. Bernard dog, trained to save avalanche victims. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-58 In the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series, see the non-fiction companion book Dog Heroes (Random House, 2011) for lots of information about St. Bernard rescue dogs, war dog heroes, and service dogs. For ages 8-9.
 imgres-59 Dorothy Hinshaw Patent’s The Right Dog for the Job (Walker Children’s Books, 2004) is a photo-essay about Ira, a golden retriever, being trained as a service dog to help the disabled. For ages 7-12.

OWNING A DOG

 imgres-60 Emily Gravett’s delightfully illustrated Dogs (Simon & Schuster, 2010) introduces readers to a wide range of dogs – from Chihuahua to Great Dane – with a clever rhyming text (and a bit of a surprise ending). For ages 2-6.
 imgres-61 Lisa Rosenthal’s A Dog’s Best Friend (Chicago Review Press, 1999) is an activity book for kids and their dogs, filled with basic information, pet care tips, recipes, and games and activities. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-62 Elizabeth Carney’s Cats vs. Dogs (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2011), illustrated with great color photographs and crammed with helpful “Pet Words” and “Weird But True” fact boxes, compares the two. Who has the scariest relatives, for example? For each short section, there’s a declared winner. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-63 Michael Rosen’s My Dog! (Workman Publishing, 2011) – subtitled “A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet” – is a cleverly designed manual for young dog owners, with basic information about dogs, dog care and training tips, and a dog identification guide. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-64 What is it really like to be a dog? By cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs, See, Smell, and Know (Scribner, 2010) explains the world from the point of view of a dog. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-65 Malcolm Gladwell’s “What the Dog Saw” is an essay in his book of the same name (What the Dog Saw, Little, Brown and Company, 2009) about Cesar Millan, dog psychologist, and his remarkable insights into the behavior of dogs. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-66 By John Homans, What’s a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend (Penguin Press, 2012) is a fascinating overview of all things dog. For teenagers and adults.
 images-5 Looking to adopt a dog? Petfinder has a dog adoption checklist, and info on dog breeds, training, care, health, and nutrition.
 images-5 The Humane Society’s Lesson Plans for Teachers are categorized by grade (PreK-2, 3-6, and 7 and up). Topics include responsible pet ownership, pet care, pet care professions, and animal abuse. Included are suggestions for raising money to support your local animal shelter and a five-part unit on dogfighting for grades 6-12.
 imgres-67 From the American Kennel Club, Elementary School Lesson Plans covers “Dogs in the Community,” “Basic Care for Canines,” “Safety Around Dogs,” “Dog Shows,” and more.

SCIENCE AND DOGS

 imgres-68 Mark Derr’s How the Dog Became the Dog (Overlook, 2013) discusses the various theories about the evolution of the domesticated dog from the wolf. Derr’s best guess: people and wolves co-evolved, teaming up in a relationship that was mutually beneficial. For teenagers and adults.
From The Scientist, Origin of Domestic Dogs presents evidence that suggests that dogs evolved from European wolves that hung out with human hunter-gatherers.
 imgres-75 From PBS, Evolution of the Dog has a short hyperlinked explanation.
 imgres-76 By Emma Townshend, Darwin’s Dogs (Frances Lincoln Books, 2009) is the story of how Darwin’s pet dogs – and dogs in general – helped him develop his famous theory of evolution. For teenagers and adults.
National Geographic’s How to Build a Dog is a short explanation of the science behind why dogs come in such a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes.
 imgres-70 At the website for the NOVA program Dogs and More Dogs, find background information on the history and science of dogs, a slide show on working dogs, a matching quiz on dogs around the world, a program transcript, and teacher’s guide.
From Scitable, find out about the Genetics of Dog Breeding.
 images-6 A Recipe for Traits is a genetics lesson in which kids create a “DNA recipe” for a dog and then decode the recipe to discover what their dog looks like. Downloadable instructions.
 imgres-71 From Wolf to Dog is a lesson plan with activities and video clips based on the Nature series Dogs That Changed the World.
 imgres-72 Pavlov’s Dog is a game based on the work of Nobel laureate Ivan Pavlov on conditioned resources. Train your dog to drool on demand.
 imgres-73 Pavlov’s Dogs is an explanation of the work of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Readers learn the about classical conditioning. Included is original film footage of Pavlov’s experiments.
 imgres-74 By Rom Harré, Pavlov’s Dogs and Schroedinger’s Cat (Oxford University Press, 2009) is an exploration of the use of animals (including people) in scientific research – among them Darwin’s finches, Dolly the famous cloned sheep, and, of course, Pavlov’s dogs. For teenagers and adults.

ASTRONOMICAL DOGS

 imgres-77 For dog-loving astronomers, Sirius – our sky’s brightest star (after the Sun) – is also known as the Dog Star. See Sirius for history, mythology, science, and viewing how-tos.
 imgres-79 Check out Orion the Hunter and Sirius the Dog Star.
 imgres-78 Sun dogs – also called parahelia or mock suns – are caused by the refraction of light from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.
 images-8 At Canine Constellations, learn all about Canis Major, Canis Minor, and the Hunting Dogs.

FAMOUS AND HISTORICAL DOGS

 imgres-80 The Index of Famous Dogs is a long list of dogs throughout history, both real and fictional. A section on “Famous People’s Dogs” includes Jules Verne’s Satellite, FDR’s Fala, and Calvin Coolidge’s Calamity Jane.
 images-9 Also check out 30 of the Greatest Movie Dogs, an illustrated list that includes Beethoven, Benji, and Lady and the Tramp, and Dog Stories From History.
 imgres-81 Frank Murphy’s George Washington and the General’s Dog (Random House, 2002) is the story of a little-known incident from the Revolutionary War in which Washington finds and returns British General Howe’s lost dog. (Included is the actual letter Washington wrote to Howe.) For ages 5-8.
 imgres-82 Roland Smith’s The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition as told by Seaman, Lewis’s Newfoundland dog. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-83 Ann Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2014) is the story of a little stump-tailed terrier, smuggled by his owner to the Western Front during WWI, who became a war hero. (Today, Stubby, now stuffed, is in the Smithsonian.) For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-84 Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin (Simon & Schuster, 2012) is the story of the German shepherd puppy who was rescued from a World War I battlefield and went on to become a Hollywood star. A fascinating read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-85 Virginia Woolf’s Flush (Mariner Books, 1976), originally published in 1933, is the biography of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush. It’s based both on poems Elizabeth wrote about her dog and correspondence between her and her husband, poet Robert Browning. For teenagers and adults.

MATH AND DOGS

 imgres-86 Give a Dog a Bone is an interactive online game in which players try to find bones hidden on a 100-square.  (Find the bone and there’s a lot of excited barking.)
The Dog Years Calculator answers the question “If your dog was a person, how old would he be?”
 imgres-87 At the Math Forum, tackle the maddening logic problem of Wilbert the Wonder Dog.
From MakingLearningFun, Math Ideas for a Pet Theme has many activities involving dogs for preschoolers and early-elementary-level kids, variously involving counting, money, and graphing.

DOG POEMS

 imgres-88 Amy Schmidt’s Loose Leashes (Random House, 2009) pairs 16 short poems with great (and funny) color photos of cheerful dogs (by Ron Schmidt) – wearing glasses, perched in toy cars, rowing boats, and more. Also, in the same vein, see Amy and Ron’s Dog-Gone School (Random House, 2013). For ages 5-8.
 imgres-89 Dave Crawley’s Dog Poems (Wordsong, 2007) is a catchy cartoon-illustrated collection including such verses as “Oodles of Poodles,” “Wolf Dog,” and “Almost Human.” For ages 6-12.
 imgres-90 In Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog  (Perfection Learning, 2003), Jack – a student of the incomparable Ms. Stretchberry in Room 105 – is, in spite of himself, learning to love poetry.  The book – entirely written in free verse – begins with Jack’s objections to all things poetic (“I don’t want to/because boys/don’t write poetry./Girls do.”), continues through his strictures on famous poets (“I think Mr. Robert Frost/has a little/too/much/time/on his/hands”), to his discovery of a poem by Walter Dean Myers (“Love That Boy”) that strikes a chord – and helps him deal with the heartbreaking loss of his yellow dog, Sky. For ages 8 and up.
See all the Poems From Love That Dog.
 imgres-91 Mary Oliver’s pen-and-ink-illustrated Dog Songs (Penguin Press, 2013) is a lovely collection of 35 dog-themed poems (and one essay).  For all ages.
 imgres-92 By Francesco Marciuliano, I Could Chew On This: And Other Poems by Dogs (Chronicle Books, 2013) is a wonderful collection divided into four parts (Inside, Outside, By Your Side, and Heavy Thinking). “Inside” is introduced with the “Dog Dictum:” “We were wolves once/Wild and wary/Then we noticed you have sofas.” Delightful for a range of ages.
From the Poetry Foundation, Dog Poems is a long list, including selections by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Pablo Neruda, Delmore Schwartz, and many more. Check out Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Dog.
I love Judith Viorst’s Mother Doesn’t Want a Dog. (“Mother doesn’t want a dog/She’s making a mistake/Because, more than a dog, I think/She will not want this snake.”)

ARTS, CRAFTS, AND DOGS

 imgres-93 Dog Crafts from Enchanted learning has instructions for making a dog greeting card, bookmark, mask, puppet, and more.
 draft_lens19190928module169399565photo_ef721021b925e523d7225 From Squidoo, Dog Craft Ideas include dog ornaments, a dog gift box, dog puppets, a sock dog, a tin can dog robot, a great dog scarf, and more.
 NEWPooches From Deep Space Sparkle, Royal Pooches in an art lesson in which kids draw three types of dogs, paint them, and then add spectacular crowns and jewelry.
 imgres-94 What Color Is Your Dog? is an art project based on artist George Rodrigue’s famous blue dog. See the website for a great video on Rodrigue and his work.
 aa02 Colorful Dogs is an art lesson for preschoolers and early-elementary-level kids in which kids make dog collages using colorful shapes.
 imgres-95 By Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, Knit Your Own Dog (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2011) has patterns for knitting 25 different woolly canines. For both new and advanced knitters.

COOKING FOR DOGS

 imgres-96 Make your own dog biscuits! (And lots more.) Lisa Fortunato’s The Everything Cooking for Dogs Book (Adams Media, 2007) has 150 recipes of yummy foods for dogs. There’s even a dog version of Green Eggs and Ham.
 images-10 Helpful accessories: Dog Bone Cookie Cutters.
 imgres-97 5 Dog Treat Recipes That Kids Can Make include banana bites, buckwheat bone biscuits, and a beefy birthday cake.
Also see Cookies for Canines (9 recipes) and King Arthur Flour’s Best of Breed Dog Biscuits, which recipe, they say, has been “vetted by a vet.”

LOSING A DOG

 imgres-98 Hans Wilhelm’s I’ll Always Love You (Dragonfly Books, 1988) is the story of Elfie, “the best dog in the whole world,” narrated by her young owner. The two grow up together – but then, one day, Elfie doesn’t wake up. It’s hard to lose a beloved pet, but this gentle book does help. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-99 By Jon Katz – author of many books about dogs – Going Home (Random House, 2012) is a comforting book on coping with the death of a dog. For teenagers and adults.

 

 

 

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Henry David Thoreau

 

ABOUT HENRY

 imgres In D.B. Johnson’s Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), inspired by Walden, Henry and a friend – both bears – prepare to go to Fitchburg, 30 miles away. The friend decides to work and save enough money to take the train; Henry, however, decides to walk, enjoying nature along the way. Sequels include Henry Builds a Cabin, Henry Climbs a Mountain, Henry Works, and Henry’s Night. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-1 Thomas Locker’s Walking with Henry (Fulcrum Publishing, 2011), illustrated with Locker’s beautiful paintings, follows Thoreau as he hikes through the wilderness.  (“When he awoke, the grass was covered/with morning dew. It looked like a mirror/broken into a thousand fragments/wildly reflecting the full blaze of the rising sun.”) Included is a timeline of Thoreau’s life. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-2 In Robert Burleigh’s If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond (Henry Holt and Company, 2012) – illustrated with gorgeous paintings by Wendell Minor – a small boy in blue jeans knocks on the door of a little house in the woods and then proceeds to spend a gentle, magical day with the owner: Henry David Thoreau. (“If you spent a day with Henry David Thoreau, you would need to get there early because Henry wakes with the sun.”) Appendices include background information on Thoreau and a list of Thoreau quotes. A lovely read for ages 5-10.
 imgres-3 In Julie Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki’s Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau’s Flute (Dial, 2002), seven-year-old Louisa May Alcott is fascinated by independent-minded Henry David Thoreau, who carries a flute in his pocket, tucks a pencil behind his ear for jotting down notes in his journal, and takes the children on nature walks. Louisa – nicknamed Louy – has some independent thoughts of her own, and Mr. Thoreau’s example eventually helps her find her own way to writing. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-4 Stephen Schnur’s Henry David’s House (Charlesbridge, 2007) is a picture-book adaptation of Walden with quotations from the original for ages 5-9.
 images Robert Burleigh’s A Man Named Thoreau (Atheneum, 1985) is out of print, but well worth tracking down – a simple story of how, though his life may have looked odd and pointless to some, Thoreau was thinking, observing, and having ideas that have become important to us all. Illustrated with lovely charcoal drawings. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-5 Michael McCurdy’s Walden Then and Now: An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau’s Pond (Charlesbridge, 2010) is an overview of Walden, past and present, illustrated with great woodblock prints. It’s designed like a child’s alphabet book: a short alphabetical phrase describes something Thoreau himself experienced or saw – A is for the angry ants whose battles Henry described in Walden; B for the bean field he planted – while a following paragraph provides information about the changes that have taken place in modern times. “J is for the joy he felt at being alone,” for example, is paired with a text explaining that Walden Pond now is visited by 600,000 people a year. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-6 By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, the play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (Hill and Wang, 2001) is a brilliant account of Thoreau’s life and philosophy, centered around the night he spent in jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the Mexican-American War – a war fought without Congressional approval and a blatant example of imperialism. A wonderful, witty, and discussion-provoking read for teenagers and adults.
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail is a teacher’s guide to accompany the play with background information and discussion questions.
 imgres-8 Michael Sims’s The Adventures of Henry Thoreau (Bloomsbury USA, 2014) traces Thoreau’s life from his boyhood (he liked to ice skate, sing, and walk in the woods) through his education at Harvard, his friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson, his famous cabin at Walden Pond, and his transformation into world-famous author and environmentalist. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-9 Robert Sullivan’s biography The Thoreau You Don’t Know (Harper Perennial, 2011) points out that Thoreau – rather than just an oddball loner who disliked new suits of clothes – was friendly, chatty, and lived most of his life in town. An interesting and informative read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-13 Ecologist David R. Foster’s Thoreau’s Country (Harvard University Press, 2002) describes how – equipped with Thoreau’s journals – the author built his own cabin in the woods, and then set out to explore how the New England landscape has changed since Thoreau took to the woods in the 19th century. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-11 The Thoreau Society provides education about Thoreau’s life, works, philosophy, and place in the world, and hosts many events for all ages. The website has a Thoreau biography and family tree, maps of Thoreau’s travels, synopses of Thoreau’s works, and more.
 imgres-12 From PBS’s “I Hear America Singing,” Henry David Thoreau is a short illustrated biography.
 imgres-7 The Transcendentalists website has background material on the philosophical movement called Transcendentalism, subscribed to by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, along with background information on prominent Transcendentalists.
 imgres-7 Henry David Thoreau is a collection of interesting and varied articles on Thoreau from the New York Times. For example, in A Man For All Seasons, find out how Thoreau’s writings are helping modern scientists analyze climate change.
 imgres-14 From Philosophy Slam, Henry David Thoreau has an overview of Thoreau’s philosophy with a list of discussion questions and associated links.
 imgres-7 Teaching Thoreau has lists of resources for educators categorized by grade (elementary grades, middle school, high school). Included are book suggestions, activities, projects, links, and more.
 imgres-7 Teaching Thoreau has resources for teachers on Thoreau and his works. Check out “Life With Principle,” a DVD on Thoreau from the Thoreau Society. Also see Thoreau’s works with hypertext annotations that explain Thoreau’s many (and sometimes obscure) references.
 imgres-15 Thoreau wasn’t an only child. In fact, he was one of four. Read about Helen Thoreau: Henry’s Big Sister.

INTO THE WOODS

 imgres-16 Jim Murphy’s Into the Deep Forest with Henry Thoreau (Clarion Books, 1995), peppered with excerpts from Thoreau’s own journals, traces Thoreau’s trips through Maine, on foot and by canoe. For ages 7-11.
 images-1 Michael Johnathon’s play Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau is a four-character play featuring a conversation between Thoreau and Emerson as Thoreau prepares to leave his cabin on Walden Pond. Download the script and accompanying lesson plans at the website above.
 imgres-17 Michael Johnathon’s Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau is a collection of 11 acoustic songs based on Thoreau’s stay at Walden Pond. Included are extensive educational notes. Song titles include “In the Woods,” “The Cabin,” and “Simple Life.”
 imgres-18 Back to Thoreau! Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books, 2008) discusses the demise of unstructured outdoor play – that is, going outside and running around in the woods – and points out how our alienation from nature (he calls it “nature-deficit disorder”) is damaging.
 images-2 The Walden Woods Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the land, literature, and legacy of Henry David Thoreau. The website has information on the Walden Woods ecosystem, activity and curriculum guides, background information on Thoreau’s life and work, and photo galleries.
 imgres-19 Build a Card Model of Henry’s Cabin is a downloadable color printout for assembling a Walden Pond house of your own.
 imgres-7 In May 1862, shortly after his death, the Atlantic magazine published Thoreau’s famous essay, Walking. Pair it with a hike.

BY HENRY

 imgres-19 Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, first published in 1854, is a reflection on the simple life, a celebration of self-reliance and introspection, and an account of a year spent in a hand-built cabin on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Now available in many editions, it’s an American classic.
Walden: An Annotated Edition has the full text of the book online along with comments, reviews, photographs, maps, and selected quotations.
 imgres-20 “If the law is of such nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law.” In his essay Civil Disobedience, originally published in 1849, Thoreau argues that the individual conscience should not be overruled by government. His beliefs have since influenced such prominent public figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Everyone should read it.
The annotated Civil Disobedience online has the complete text in both English and Spanish along with comments and reviews.
 imgres-7 The Writings of Henry David Thoreau has information on Thoreau’s books, journals, and correspondence, samples of Thoreau’s (terrible) handwriting, online journal transcripts, and more.

FICTIONAL HENRY

imgres-24 In Rebecca Rupp’s Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything (Candlewick, 2010), Octavia is struggling to come to terms with belief after her mother leaves the family to join the fundamentalist Redeemers. With the help of her best friend Andrew (whose big questions are about everything from time travel to alien jellyfish), Octavia finally comes to terms with her relationships, concluding – with Henry David Thoreau – that “The universe is bigger than our views of it.” For ages 10-14.
 imgres-21 In Robin Vaupel’s My Contract with Henry (Holiday House, 2003), four eighth-grade English students, as part of a class project, build a cabin in the local woods and set out to emulate Henry David Thoreau. In the process, they learn a lot about themselves and their values, and eventually galvanize the community into action when the woods is sold to developers. For ages 11-14.
 imgres-22 In Cal Armistead’s Being Henry David (Albert Whitman & Company, 2013), a  teenaged boy wakes up in Penn Station with no memory, ten dollars, and a copy of Thoreau’s Walden. He names himself Henry David and heads for Concord, Massachusetts, hoping to discover his past at Walden Pond – though it’s clear that something in his past is frightening. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-23 Henry David Thoreau: detective? In B.B. Oak’s Thoreau at Devil’s Perch (Kensington, 2013), Thoreau – in company with Dr. Adam Walker and Walker’s feisty and intelligent cousin, Julia Bell – investigates the murder of a young black man whose body has been found at the foot of a cliff called Devil’s Perch. The first of a series. For teenagers and adults.

 

 

 

 

 

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